Friday, September 11, 2015

It doesn't have to be big and loud...

There is nothing so American as putting water in a can, adding some food coloring and a bit of alcohol, and calling it beer. This illustrates the American tendency for big results without subtlety. This translates into the vehicle world. Muscle cars are very American and go very well in a straight line, while sacrificing cornering. The American cruiser is much the same and glorifies big and bawdy with little in the way of practicality. Both vehicle types are big and loud, but don't need to be to get the job done.

The motor scooter dates back before the Cushman, which served the military in World War II, but the motorcycle took greater market share because America was blessed with material wealth after the war. Bikes and cars got bigger and bigger, louder and louder and costlier by the year. Other countries adopted the scooter and the small motorbike. They cost less to build, purchase and maintain than big bikes and cars, but they work well and are durable.

Both the Kymco People 150 and the Honda PCX150 have proven that such vehicles are underrated. Both scooters have shown themselves reliable and sturdy. As mentioned in a previous entry, the Kymco traveled more than 24,000 miles in my service, and the PCX150 has already done more than 1800 miles, over 800 of those over the five day trip to Massachusetts. It handled the trip with ease, even with a few longer stints on highways.

It's amazing how versatile these little machines can be. On the two days between traveling, the PCX became a runabout instead of a long-range tourer. It just works.

One of my nephews took the offer of a ride on the back and had a blast. It was different to ride two-up again after not having done so for a long time, but it gave him a little joy. I had stopped in at my sister's house for dinner and a movie. It was nice to take in the simple pleasures of life.

We could use, as a nation and a society, to get back to enjoying the simple things.


kz1000st said...

While scooters have their place in Third World nations keep in mind that the greatest selling two wheeler in history is the Honda Cub, a shifty. Something like 18 million in its history. Look closely at videos of the traffic jams in many Asian cities and you'll see most of the two wheeled vehicles are Cubs or copies.
Americans ride motorcycles in great numbers for one reason. They're interstate capable and we have plenty of interstates. When you had the Sabre you didn't need to travel State Highways to Massachusetts as I recall. I use my 250 scooter on the big roads but my Wife's Honda Rebel is more stable, faster and just as fuel efficient. I also enjoy the feeling of the engine kicking in at every shift.
Harley and Indian started in 1901 and 02. Scooters didn't gain recognition until Roman Holiday. Vespa started in 1946 as a relative newcomer to two wheeled travel.

kz1000st said...

Wait! I was wrong.

87 million Cubs. One model flooding the third world like no other. The workhorse of nations,

Paul Smith said...

Yep. Little bikes dominate all over the rest of the world especially in lesser developed countries. The US seems to be the only country that does not embrace the small displacement bike/scooter. That trend seems to be changing just a bit, especially in cities, but it's slow in coming because as a nation, we still seem to have the money for the bigger bikes. All in good time though.

Paul Smith said...

Although, if it's any teller, Harley Davidson is now selling 500cc and 750cc bikes as their entry level. They're not actually made by Harley, just branded as such.